Redeemed or Forgiven?
Part 7 of 8
This Part 7 will cover the topic of sin.
“For until the law sin was in the world…”
If the Hebrew Roots Movement wants to talk about sin, righteousness and obedience, then I am going to oblige them and take it one step further.
Many people who would normally agree with me, may not agree with some of my conclusions but I would encourage people to understand that I am meeting the HRM on their own turf in order to disprove their position. They want to talk about sin, so I say, let’s talk.
God wants us to deal with sin so that we can see what He has done in us, through Himself in the Redemption, but Satan wants us to deal with sin on such a level that we forget, or fail to see what God has done.
The doctrine and arguments of the HRM do not seem to believe in the type of sin that needs to be redeemed but it only presents a religious type of sin that needs to be forgiven. For the HRM, sin is not a part of morality/immorality, depravity, purity, nature and condition. It is purely religious sin that is limited to written commands apart from the condition of the person to whom they are given.
The HRM may attach a great deal of moral and righteous sentiments to their version of sin, but their position on sin is nothing more than lawlessness in the face of the Redemption. The HRM does not adhere to the logistics and methods of how sin is dealt with through the Redemption and this equates to a greater form of lawlessness that disregards what God has done with sin. Just as the Pharisees were, the goal to be obedient on one point has resulted in lawlessness in the scope of everything else.
I’m getting to the place where I believe that deep down, the HRM is not interested in abolishing sin. Sin is big business and it pays for those who promote the Law. Crime is the same way. If there wasn’t crime, then there would be no need for cops and the whole big business industry of law enforcement. Just like people who have a victimization mentality, if they were not victims of someone or somebody, then they would have nothing to live for because their whole life is built around being a victim. I believe there is a certain element of this to the HRM.
I’m sure it burned the Pharisees to see people justified under the baptism of John because when he came, there went their whole business right out the window. So let’s look at the issue of sin and see if the HRM is truly and honestly interested in dealing with it.
If I didn’t make it clear enough through the previous articles, then let me summarize the Redemption of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ came to restore mankind to the image and likeness of Himself that was lost in the garden. The fall of man and the nature of sin/Adam through the knowledge of good and evil, violates the two foundational principles of righteousness which are love/benevolence/consideration for Him, and love/benevolence/consideration for man. This nature was the ruling nature of mankind and the Law revealed and restrained the manifestations of this nature, but did not conquer it. This nature that existed in man was condemned from its inception until Jesus Christ paid the penalty of it by being crucified in His body. The death of Christ made a place for this nature to die so that we could die to it and be reborn and resurrected to a new nature. This new nature does not violate love for God and love for man, but it manifests itself in honor of these and the attributes of Christ. This new nature is the nature of Christ and it exists within us through His Spirit and it needs no restraint because it honors God and man and it restrains the remnant of the sinful nature in us through grace rather than a legal/bond method because the nature of Christ is not under condemnation like the nature of Adam was.
PERSONAL SIN AND COMMUNAL SIN-
Since the HRM holds to a one dimensional view of sin in relation to commandments rather than natures, sin and righteousness become very external and communal. By communal, I mean that saints and sinners are easily determined by works, and holiness becomes something that is obtained by adhering to external standards. In a communal mentality, righteousness becomes something that can be enforced by external standards, discipline or pressure.
The problem with a communal or “village” view of sin and righteousness is that it deceives young believers into thinking that sin and righteousness is determined and obtained externally. The other problem is that it allows wicked people to excuse their wickedness because they keep an external standard. There is a false sense of immunity in a communal perception of righteousness and it is usually synonymous with self-righteousness. The end result of a communal or social perception of sin is the belief that people are set apart or sanctified through observances or abstinences of the human body and five senses.
On the other hand, personal sin is really the aim and purpose of the Cross. Because sin has to do more with natures and how the nature of sin manifests itself, each person is different because sin manifests itself differently in each person.
When we come to Christ, we come as lost sinners with our own uniqueness of sin and sins. We have different temptations and different failings than other people.
Understanding personal sin becomes directly related to our own degree of depravity and lost-ness. It can never be understood by abstaining or observing. It can be restrained through abstinences and observances, but that’s all that is usually acomplished. Abstinence and observance is what Paul calls the knowledge of sin in Romans 7.
Abstinence and observance gives us the knowledge of what should or shouldn’t be done. If a child does not know that there are cookies in the cupboard, and a parent says to that child, “do not eat the cookies in the cupboard”, then that child becomes alive to the knowledge of cookies, the knowledge of the command not to eat them, and the degree of temptation to eat those cookies.
The HRM almost always puts sin along the lines of ceremonial or communal and not moral. They may claim the commandments are moral to make them obligatory but they are never fighting against sin along the lines of an inward struggle. They see the flesh as an apathetic and undisciplined aspect of humanity rather than universal nature that is contrary to God and they do not see the Cross as the means and substance whereby the nature source of sin is dealt with.
Despite what the HRM says there is more than one way to define sin, and actually, I think it is imperative and mandatory that sin be looked at in two different aspects.
The HRM loves to use 1 John 3:4 as an attempt to sum up the whole Bible:
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (KJV)
The problem with this is that the HRM cannot finish the equation. If sin is transgression of the law, then naturally, righteousness and the absence of sin would be found in the keeping of it, right??
No, that is a false equation and conclusion, but it would have to be the natural conclusion outside of the Redemption, and that’s the way it was in the OT. This would make the Pharisees to be saints.
Both Paul and Jesus put sin in the context of something completely inward and Paul goes on to specify sin and righteousness according to two natures which are the Spirit and the flesh. Paul goes even farther to list the manifestations and evidences of these two natures.
I covered this in Part 5, but let’s look at it again:
“For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
The definition of sin has really become: “whatever is a manifestation of the flesh.”
This actually raises the standard of sin and righteousness, but it completely changes the dynamics of how we operate and we will look at this later on in the article.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN-
What is the knowledge of sin?
How does the Bible say we are to know what sin is?
If you were to ask the HRM, they would say that the Law was given at creation so people would know what was right and wrong and so they would know what God wants us to do, and not do.
If you were to ask the apostle Paul, you would get a different story. We know that God commanded Adam and Eve on certain points but Paul says that the Law entered at a different date and for a different purpose. Let’s read some plain scripture about this:
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
“(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses…Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound…”(Roman 5:12-20)
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.
Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.”
Ok, that’s alot of scripture but let’s begin with the one concept that Paul presents in all these verses which is the pre-existence of sin apart from the Law.
It’s very interesting how Romans 3:20 says that the whole reason we are not justified by works is because the knowledge of sin comes through the Law. Paul is emphasizing that there is condemnation and acquaintance which the Law proves.
In Romans 5, Paul presents the concept that there was a pre-existing offense to God that came with all men because of Adam, and this offense went unchecked and wasn’t imputed to man until the Law entered to reveal and make that offense known.
In Romans 7 we have an even greater revelation of the pre-existence and knowledge of sin on a very person level.
Not only does Paul say that he wouldn’t have known what covetousness was without the Law, but now that he knew what covetousness was, the problem is that there was an internal struggle between himself and the command not to covet. So for Paul, the problem was not in knowing what God commands him to do, but the problem was realizing that there was a pre-existing opposition and aversion to the command.
The knowledge of sin for Paul has become of a revelation of his bodily acquaintance with its existence. Paul says that without the Law, sin was actually dead for him. This means that there was no struggle with sin prior to the Law.
Once the Law entered for Paul, this made sin alive and he became aware of the exceedingly sinfulness of sin due to the struggle and aversion to God that existed within him already.
This is exactly what happened to Adam at the fall. When Adam fell, he became automatically and intimately acquainted with what made him in opposition to God. Adam’s natural response to God, was in opposition to God.
This type of acquaintance and intimacy with sin is not something that the HRM doctrine deals with because their definition of sin is always after-the-fact and not pre-existent. The Law of Moses always deals with sin after the offense occurs and the HRM takes their cues from this process that places the Law first and the breaking of it, second. This however does not fit the pattern of redemption in the Bible where bondage actually preceded the Law. The parallel and application of Exodus shows us that people were in bondage before the Law came to them. Israel was in bondage to Egypt way before the Law and so we are also in bondage to sin before sin is ever imputed to us through the Law.
The HRM is greatly overlooking this example for us. They only see Sinai and what happens afterwards in the context of the Law and the bondage that Israel came into for breaking it, but they miss the parallel of a pre-existing bondage despite the Law.
This brings us to another aspect of the knowledge of sin.
NAKEDNESS AND THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SIN-
“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed…And the eyes them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked?…”
I really do believe that what we see happening in the garden is far more than what we consider today to be guilt and remorse or a guilty conscience. Adam and Eve never displayed guilt or remorse, but quite the opposite. They were rather defiant of what happened.
The shame Adam and Eve had was because of their nakedness. This is more similar to a loss of innocence the same way we see with sexual sins. Sexual sin and the loss of virginity outside of marriage has the same consequences because once it happens, there is no going back. Adam and Eve became self-aware and self-conscious with no one else around. Their eyes were opened and there was no going back. The Bible never says their eyes were open to the sin they committed. It just says that they became conscious of their nakedness. Their solution was to create a covering of fig leaves through the work of their hands that God replaced with His own covering later on. Before Christ, nowhere does the Bible say that mankind lost his consciousness of nakedness. Mankind has simply spent all this time trying to re-master and gain control over this consciousness with every type of fig leaf he can sew together. This occurrence in the garden created a paradox in which man’s eyes were opened only to become blinded.
The reason I quote Genesis and say all this is to examine what place the HRM and SDA arguments have in dealing with sin. They would claim that they are promoting obedience to God’s laws, but it is usually done on the basis and presumption that we are still alive to sin and nakedness, in Christ. It becomes a gospel of pseudo-holiness based on sin-consciousness, command consciousness, and self-consciousness but none of these have the power to crucify the flesh in order that we may be God-conscious and Spirit-conscious:
“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did…that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those that live according to the flesh set their mind on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”
Before a person is born again, conviction and consciousness to commandments or any other type of regulations is the only type of Holy Spirit or affect of the Holy Spirit they have and if that person does not yield to Christ, then they must do everything to order the structure of their life around that consciousness to commandments. It’s their only hope of feeling like they are concerned for God and avoiding sin, but sin is even more alive because this person has only one way of measuring and determining the success of their convictions, and that is to look to themselves and in doing so they find sin to be much more alive and exposed. When this person’s convictions and desire to be righteous through commandment consciousness does not ease their conscience from the knowledge and intimacy with sin, their last hope and resort is to measure themselves against other people and the world around them. If this person can maintain a lifestyle of distinction from the world around them by observing everything that applies to the external life and the outer man, then their conscience can be falsely put to rest for quite some time.
One of the most diseased mindsets that can ever afflict our walk with God is the mindset that believes we should always be in consciousness of our own righteousness in contrast and distinction from other people.
THE DECEPTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS-
When Jesus came, He did not pat people on the back and champion their supposed distinction from Rome and “sinners”, but the basic premise of the HRM is built on this whole idea of distinction and consciousness to distinction and sin. Listen to the manner in which Jesus speaks to those who think they are alive to God:
“And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.’
Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, ‘Are we blind also?’
Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see’. Therefore your sin remains.
We should always be mindful of where we might be sinning, but Adam and Eve were tempted along the lines of consciousness. They were presented with the lie that God had somehow made them naive to something.
We have to always beware of people who are trying to make us conscious of something because sinful people are always proud of what they are aware of and alive to. The real sign of a sinner is someone who accuses someone else of naivety. People are deceived into thinking that because they are conscious and alive to something, then that must equate to being a master over it and this is how the HRM tries to pass off a pseudo-mastery over sin. They boast in their consciousness to sin and commandments as if this equates to being dead to sin. It does not.
I don’t think that we ever see Jesus affirming anyone who operated from the belief that their consciousness and awareness equaled righteousness.
UNCONSCIOUSNESS OF SIN-
It shouldn’t bother Christians that the HRM boasts or claims a certain distinction, but it should bother us because they are promoting the idea that the absence of sin is found in the consciousness to sin and self through the commandments, rather than co-crucifixion with Christ where we become dead with Him unto sin and self, and alive to God.
The remedy for sin for the HRM and SDA seems to be a promotion of the idea that we should be self-aware and self-conscious to a type of sinful nakedness that has never been resolved and covered by Christ. These are the types of people whom Charles Finney considers to be “awakened” sinners who have yet to submit to the righteousness of Christ. They are awakened to the struggles and awakened to the laws and standards but for them, righteousness is still viewed as being conscious to all of these things rather than dead to them because sin is still alive and it must be subdued through the only means they know, which is keeping the Law. The Law is always viewed as the absence of sin whenever people are still alive to sin.
This is the opposite of the remedy that Paul presents in Romans 6 that we have because of Christ. Read this passage ever so carefully:
-“knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
-For he who has died has been freed from sin.
-Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
-For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
-Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Everybody believes they are forgiven by Christ, but not everybody believes that the remedy for sin and consciousness towards God is found in the work of Christ in the Cross.
Nowhere in history has anyone been more equally alive to God and dead to sin, self and the world, than at the Cross and that’s why it’s our remedy and hiding place by faith. It’s the only place where God sees sin being dealt with.
THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS-
One affect of the Holy Spirit through the Redemption is to bring a personal understanding to the unique relationship that we have with sin and the type of consciousness it brings to every area of our life as individuals. Psalms 107 speaks of how God has redeemed those who were in captivity from the east and the west and the north and the south. This speaks of a universal and singular redemption of people who were in different and multiple types of bondage.
Paul puts the knowledge of sin on a personal level in Romans 7. All the other doctrinal points of Romans 3-8 are universal in context but Paul does not speak of sin universally. He presents an example of personal and unique experience and a personal struggle with sin so lets look at this a little more.
The Holy Spirit is basically the life of Christ manifest to us and within us (Gal 2:20). Jesus said the Holy Spirit would glorify Him (John 16). However, the HRM is always presenting the absence of sin in the life of Christ by pointing to His observance and obedience to the Law.
They never really point to how He understood His ministry and how the Cross represents the pinnacle of being unconscious to self but alive to God. Even with this pinnacle of obedience, the basis and foundation of His sinless life began way before that.
We have an example from the life of Christ about how the Holy Spirit plays a part in revealing the uniqueness of sin/temptation as it pertains to individual. Lets read:
“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread’…”
The Bible specifically tells us that the Spirit led Jesus to the desert to be tempted. Jesus encountered three unique types of temptation that are all unique to Him. All these temptations were specifically designed to confront Jesus and His purpose, but there is something that is very, very interesting about these temptations.
Except for the final temptation, these temptations are not directly related to transgressions of the Law such as breaking the Sabbath or eating pork, but these temptations are eerily similar to the temptation in the garden.
Both sets of temptations begin with a natural appeal to the body in the manner of food. Then they progress to an appeal of a sense of purpose and personal glory that God is withholding. Then they progress to an appeal of complete mastery and god-likeness over all the things of the world and what it has to offer. The fact that Jesus was tempted in the same way that Adam and Eve were is remarkable!
OUR WILDERNESS OF TESTING-
Every person is going to be affected by some type of desert in their life.
-Adam was tested in the garden according to that revelation.
-Abraham was tested according to his revelation of promise and faith.
-Israel was tested according to their revelation of sin and righteousness through the Law.
-Jesus was tested according to everything in relation to His nature and relationship with the Father.
All of these people were tested AFTER they were given a revelation of promise and purpose by God and the same goes for us.
Consider this example of a desert for a believer:
Almost everyone who is a believer will testify that in the early stages after coming to the Lord, there were sins that they readily shed and abandoned. They automatically began cutting off their right hand and gouging out their right eye. However, as these people progressed in their walk, they either came to the discovery of other sins in their life or they began to struggle with old ones. On top of that, when the joy of their salvation had faded overtime, many believers also began to doubt their salvation, or feel that they were failing to meet some standard that would maintain a perpetual joy or sense of the Holy Spirit.
Whether it was the struggle with sin or with doubt, most young believers begin to heavily scrutinize themselves and undertake a great deal of introspection. When this does not seem to provide the power to overcome their struggles, or even if it may relieve them in some way, the next step is the undertaking of disciplines to lists and regimented standards that may be Biblical or extra-Biblical.
Whatever a person undertakes, it is usually because he fails to grasp the substance of Jesus Christ and he chooses a similar but false alternative substance.
Many people are willing to take on obedience to the Law and commandments, but Jesus was obedient to the leading of the Spirit to be tested in the wilderness. His testing was not according to the Law but according to the temptation in the garden because the nature of Adam is the aim of the devil for all men. If the devil can get a person to only view sin in relation to the Law, then that person has failed to grasp what sin is.
The people of Israel were tested in relation to the commandments because they could not be tested according to the Spirit and the sinful nature since Christ had not yet conquered sin at the Cross. They had to be tested according to sin and righteousness that was revealed in the commandments. We however, are tested according to the Spirit and not the Law because sin and righteousness has been revealed through the work of Christ. The work of the righteousness of God in Christ has been worked in us through the Spirit, not the Law, and we are tested according to the contrast between the Spirit and the nature of Adam. We are not tested according to the contrast between the Law and our humanity.
People are intentionally unwilling or they are deceived into avoiding this manner of testing and so they opt out for a more manageable type of testing along the lines of a few commandments, mostly of their own choosing.
Adam and Jesus were not tempted to break the Law of Moses, they were tempted to become self aware and self conscious rather than God conscious. This is sin, and it resides in our Adam which the Law has no power to crucify. It does not reside in Christ because He overcame the temptation even unto death. In Him is God consciousness, but in the Law is only sin consciousness.
The devil knows that he cannot get some people to break the law and commit flagrant sins, so the strategy is to get people to believe that being conscious and alive to God through Christ by faith is not sufficient to God. When people fall for this trap and/or lose sight of God through Christ, the temptation arises to believe in a false god-consciousness through the Law. This false consciousness leads to a revival of sin consciousness that only leads to self consciousness that sews fig leaves together as a covering. These fig leaves give us the impression that we have addressed the issue of sin, but they have not.
As long as a person is not dealing with their inner Adam through the Cross, the devil doesn’t care because his foothold is in Adam. Why would the devil care if a person is keeping the commandments as long as he has a dominating foothold in all that a person says and does?
Our redemption in Christ has secured for us a consciousness unto God by faith that doesn’t have to be ordered and structured from without. We have been given consciousness towards God within so that we can apply this God-conscious life of Christ to the uniqueness of our own personal life. This is how God deals with real sin, and the only way to have a God conscious life is through Jesus Christ and the Cross by faith.
Jesus Christ has accomplished everything so that we may be properly conscious towards God without fig leaves as a covering, but we are tempted daily to take on an alternative consciousness that seems Godly, but the end substance is fig leaves and not Jesus Christ.
I have never heard the HRM or SDA ever offer this unadulterated substance of Jesus who has been made for us, redemption, sanctification and wisdom of God(1 Corinthians 1). Because of this failure to grasp the revelation of Christ, the list of alternatives become endless and therein lies the obvious objection to the HRM and SDA arguments by those who have found Christ to be the Light and Life in their place of sin and darkness.
Sin doesn’t need to be understood through philosophy, psychology and study, but we need to understand sin through the revelation of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Peter understood sin when he came to a revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus told Peter to re-cast his nets for a greater catch of fish. Though he doubted at first and reluctantly obeyed, Peter responded to the miracle catch by telling Jesus:
“Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
All in all, we never see this type of revelation of sin being expounded upon in the HRM. There really isn’t anything such as spiritual sin, just religious sin. I can’t help but conclude that the HRM is really more interested in promoting the commandments than they are in confronting sin. They can call out sins in relation to the Law all day, but this simply amounts to treating the symptom and not the disease. The Law was meant to reveal the disease by pointing out the symptoms but there is no cure for the disease of sin through the Law whether it be at the point of salvation or afterwards.
“For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”(Galatians 5:5)
“and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”